Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius
Ganelin Trio Priority | Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius

Nemu Records • www.nemu-records.com

The original Ganelin Trio (with drummer Vladimir Tarasov and saxophonist Vladimir Chekassin) was a force to be reckoned with. Coming from the now defunct Soviet Union, the trio paved the way for doors to be opened wide in terms of adventurous jazz from the east. The trio was heavy on long form music. Just about every one of their albums featured an extended piece of work. This is where they thrived best. Fast forward a quarter century since the trio’s inception. Vilnius in Lithuania in 2005 was where the scene was set for the Ganelin Trio Priority (as they’re now known). It was there they played a live gig at the packed Lithuanian National Philharmony. Filled with generous amounts of daylight (the hall has plenty of windows on the second floor), the trio brings to life improvised music at its very best.

Starting off with double-keyboard tickles from pianist/leader Vyacheslav Ganelin, the trio dives head deep into two long pieces of music. The two part “Conversation” is an ideal signal for all three players to come together as one. While Ganelin rumbles through a block of ideas on the piano and his keyboard (positioned just above the ivories), saxophonist Petras Vysniauskas and percussionist Klaus Kugel spew out a million ideas of their own. These are not necessarily complementary ideas either. What seems to work best during the initial phases of the DVD is a perception of continuing conflict that is pushed and pushed until musical gamut explodes in a flurry of flares.

What I love most about this music is its natural affinity for airiness. Ganelin amazes the viewer as he’s sliding his hand across the Casio, while the other hand strikes persistent motifs on the ivories. No conflict can continue for too long unresolved, which is why every member of the trio gets his turn at a glowing passage of alone-time. Ganelin closes the first piece with a very still keyboard breeze, while he starts the next chapter with a percussion duo with Kugel. In fact, the portion with Kugel is all the more challenging considering his left hand is taking strokes at the keyboard as his right one is holding a stick that pounds the skins without mercy. Again, the fury is broken off with Vysniauskas stepping in to add a layer of soprano madness. All of this slows down for a few minutes as Kugel strikes a series of triangles, bells and light scrapes on the cymbals, while Ganelin investigates double keyboard melodies again.

On “Conversation II”, the music starts off at a turtle’s pace. Kugel and Ganelin tease one another with hints of sound and delicate strikes on the tom and shakes of the bells. As with previous pieces, once Vysniauskas steps in, the music picks up pace tremendously. Colour is added to create a cacophony of gorgeous layers of melodic fantasy. One thing that is noteworthy about this DVD other than the music is the fact that it was shot from multiple angles, allowing total freedom to the three musicians. Nobody steps on anyone’s toes and no camera equipment is seen moving around. True professionalism mixed with improvisational genius of the highest order. The Ganelin Trio Priority deserved the warm applause they won at the end of the show.

Tom Sekowski – December 2007

Ganelin Trio Priority
Vyacheslav Ganelin – piano, synthesizer, percussion
Petras Vysniauskas – soprano saxophone
Klaus Kugel – drums, percussion
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tom Sekowski
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